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US to expand family-reunification program as part of new lawful pathways


United States Border Patrol agents on horseback patrol the desert in advance of the planned May 11 ending of COVID-19 border restrictions known as Title 42, that have been in place since 2020, in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, U.S. April 26, 2023. REUTERS/Paul Ratje

The United States will expand a family-reunification parole program currently available to Cubans and Haitians to include additional nationalities, U.S. officials said on Thursday, as part of a suite of measures aimed at curbing record border crossings.

The program will be expanded to nationals of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in an effort to create new lawful pathways for migrants, the officials said during a briefing with reporters. Reuters first reported the plans.

The expansion of family reunification was part of a series of actions rolled out by President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday to address a possible increase in illegal immigration when COVID-19 border restrictions in place since 2020 are expected to end on May 11.

Biden, a Democrat seeking re-election in 2024, has struggled politically with record numbers of migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

Republicans have said Biden should have retained restrictive policies put in place by former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Biden administration will establish refugee processing centers in Guatemala and Colombia, the U.S. officials said, which could help increase the currently small number of refugee admissions from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the United States is also discussing increased refugee processing in Ecuador and Costa Rica.

The existing family-reunification parole programs open to Cubans and Haitians allow U.S. citizens or permanent residents to apply to bring family members with approved immigrant visas to the United States while they wait to have a residency visa issued.

The family reunification program is distinct from a program that Biden launched in January that allows up to 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela with U.S. sponsors to enter the country by air.

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